Moshe-Mordechai van Zuiden
Psychology, Medicine, Science, Politics, Oppression, Integrity, Philosophy, Jews

Why do Jews get more Nobel Prizes?

Jews get more than 100 times more Nobel Prizes than their demographics would predict. That’s very disproportional. But why?

Is it favoritism? Hardly. The Jew is the eternal outsider in the Western world. Anti-Jewish sentiments are nowhere higher than at the top of Western societies.

Is it because of their genes (No, not: jeans, Levis)? We’re not a race. We have genetic material from every race on earth. Because we do accept converts–though not easily. We are a Nation, a People, not a Race.

Are they smarter? That would be nice. Especially for teachers. Some Jews stand out for being smart. But all they do is reinforce the stereotype. Some Gentiles are razor-sharp. And some Jews are really dumb. Really.

Is it the wisdom of ages (the Sages) shining through? No doubt, it could help to be raised in a tradition and culture that teaches great wisdom and high morality. But then, why are the brightest Jewish lights in the modern world, Jews who left the fold? Spinoza, Freud, Einstein, Feynman, Penrose. If their brainy background was so helpful, would they have abandoned it?

Divine intervention? Jews believe that G^d created the Universe but is not part of it. G^d’s communications are more about why than how. Good luck proving G^d’s Presence or Actions!


Let me suggest something else.

The Noble Prizes generally are rewarded for the greatest innovations. To innovate, you need two things:

  1. Trust that you can.

Jews had to adapt over and over again to survive.

  1. Work hard.

Now, there are lazy Jews but that’s not what we’re known for. A Gentile colleague at work once asked me: “Why are Jews always running? You also have 24 hours in a day, no?” We know how precious every minute is. A wasted minute doesn’t return.

Einstein remarked his work was “1% inspiration and 99% perspiration.”

Jews, on average, are often also richer than their Gentile counterparts in the same population, although 80% of them work for a living like almost everyone else. No, as a group, we’re not privileged or overprotected. We simply work harder.

Don’t worry. A real anti-Semite can as easily “hate them because they have all the power” as “I can’t stand that they work so hard. It’s unfair.”

The American dream myth that if you work hard you can become anything you want is false. But a group working harder does make an average difference. As the Chinese living in exile also show. Someone once said: “The Chinese are Jews without Shabbat.”

So, Jews get more Nobel Prizes because, on average, they work harder.

About the Author
MM is a prolific and creative writer and thinker, a daily blog contributor to the TOI. He is a fetal survivor of the pharmaceutical industry (, born in 1953 to two Dutch survivors who met in the largest concentration camp in the Netherlands, Westerbork, and holds a BA in medicine (University of Amsterdam). He taught Re-evaluation Co-counseling, became a social activist, became religious, made Aliyah, and raised three wonderful kids. He wrote an unpublished tome about Jewish Free Will. He's a strict vegan since 2008. He's an Orthodox Jew but not a rabbi. * His most influential teachers (chronologically) are: his parents, Nico (natan) van Zuiden and Betty (beisye) Nieweg, Wim Kan, Mozart, Harvey Jackins, Marshal Rosenberg, Reb Shlomo Carlebach, and, lehavdil bein chayim lechayim: Rabbi Dr. Natan Lopes Cardozo, Rav Zev Leff, and Rav Meir Lubin. * Previously, for decades, he was known to the Jerusalem Post readers as a frequent letter writer. For a couple of years, he wrote hasbara for the Dutch public. His fields of attention now are varied: Psychology (including Sexuality and Abuse), Medicine (including physical immortality), Science (statistics), Politics (Israel, the US and the Netherlands, Activism - more than leftwing or rightwing, he hopes to highlight Truth), Oppression and Liberation (intersectionally, for young people, the elderly, non-Whites, women, workers, Jews, LGBTQIA, foreigners and anyone else who's dehumanized or exploited), Integrity, Philosophy, Jews (Judaism, Zionism, Holocaust and Jewish Liberation), Ecology and Veganism. Sometimes he's misunderstood because he has such a wide vision that never fits any specialist's box. But that's exactly what many love about him. Many of his posts relate to affairs from the news or the Torah Portion of the Week or are new insights that suddenly befell him. * He hopes that his words will inspire and inform, reassure the doubters but make the self-assured doubt more. He strives to bring a fresh perspective rather than bore you with the obvious. He doesn't expect his readers to agree. Rather, original minds must be disputed. In short, his main political positions are: anti-Trumpism, for Zionism, Intersectionality, non-violence, democracy, anti the fake peace process, for original-Orthodoxy, Science, Free Will, anti blaming-the-victim and for down-to-earth optimism. Read his blog how he attempts to bridge any discrepancies. He admits sometimes exaggerating to make a point, which could have him come across as nasty, while in actuality, he's quite a lovely person to interact with. He holds - how Dutch - that a strong opinion doesn't imply intolerance of other views. * His writing has been made possible by an allowance for second-generation Holocaust survivors from the Netherlands. It has been his dream since he was 38 to try to make a difference by teaching through writing. He had three times 9-out-of-10 for Dutch at his high school finals but is spending his days communicating in English and Hebrew - how ironic. G-d must have a fine sense of humor. In case you wonder - yes, he is a bit dyslectic. November 13, 2018, he published his 500th blog post with the ToI. If you're a native English speaker and wonder why you should read from people whose English is only their second language, consider the advantage of having a peek outside of your cultural bubble. * NEW: To see other blog posts by him, his overspill blog you can reach by clicking on the Website icon next to his picture at the head of every post. There you may find precursors to later TOI blog posts, addition or corrections of published TOI blog posts, blog posts the TOI will not carry, and some thoughts that are too short to be a TOI blog post. Also, the TOI only allows for one blog post per blogger per 24 hours. Sometimes, he has more to say than that. * To send any personal reaction to him, scroll to the top of the blog post and click Contact Me.
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